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Rene Bourque celebrates a goal.
What a series Rene Bourque is having. You could actually argue that he has been the Montreal Canadiens' best player through the first three games of the first round.
Nobody saw this coming.
In fact, if Alex Galchenyuk was available for this series, Bourque would probably be watching the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs next to George Parros, Douglas Murray and company as a healthy scratch.
But time and time again, players take advantage of others' injuries and work themselves into the spotlight, and that's exactly what Bourque has done against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Through the first three games, he has three goals, a plus-three rating and a team-high 15 shots on net. He is also tied for the team lead with eight hits. And he's been doing all of this while playing the majority of his shifts against Steven Stamkos and friends.
Bourque has found the proverbial next gear that is needed to succeed in the playoffs. He's been fast, fresh and, most importantly, confident. He's playing at a level that makes it easy to confuse his jersey No. 17 with Max Pacioretty's No. 67.
He has always frustrated Canadiens fans who have watched him fail to live up to his potential. The skill has been there, but the effort hasn't. He seems to be making up for that now.
Bourque has been a wonderful surprise to the start of the playoffs, and his emergence is a big reason why Montreal has a 3-0 series lead.